Tornado's path in rural Manitoba was as wide as 800 metres, Environment Canada says

A tornado that carved a destructive path up to 800 metres wide Friday night, leading to one fatality near Alonsa, Man., was on the ground for at least 20 minutes before making its exit over Lake Manitoba, according to Environment Canada.

Meterologists on scene in western Manitoba estimate fatal twister lasted 20 minutes

Cleanup started Saturday at the home of an elderly couple in Alonsa, Man., that was destroyed in Friday's tornado. Neighbour Matthew Oleschak and his cousin were able to pull the couple from the rubble shortly after the twister tore through the home. (Justin Fraser/CBC)

A tornado that carved a destructive path up to 800 metres wide through Alonsa, Man., leading to one fatality, was on the ground for at least 20 minutes before making its exit over Lake Manitoba, according to Environment Canada.

Meteorologist Brad Vrolijk said a three-person team from Environment Canada was dispatched to the area, about 165 kilometres northwest of Winnipeg, on Saturday to survey the storm damage and determine the twister's exact path, size and wind speed.

"There are indications that the winds were very strong, but it's going to take several days to just comb through all of that evidence they gathered and determine just how strong this tornado was," Vrolijk said.

Based on their preliminary investigation, they're classifying it as an EF-3. EF-0 tornadoes are the least severe, while the most severe are classified as EF-5. 

Family members have confirmed to CBC News the man who died is Jack Furrie, 77.

On Sunday, a spokesperson for Environment Canada said an elderly couple was admitted to hospital after a wall in their home just east of Alonsa fell on them.

No other casualties were reported in the immediate aftermath of the storm.

Based on a survey of the damage, Environment Canada said: 

  • A small farmhouse was destroyed where the 77-year-old man lived.
  • One home was partially destroyed, injuring an elderly couple.
  • Two cabins were destroyed: one on the shore of Lake Manitoba and the other just to the west.
  • Many, many trailers, tractors and vehicles were destroyed.
  • Two horses that belonged to the man who died ran away, but returned. 
  • A group of cattle were still missing; they ran away after a fence was demolished.

Family escapes to basement as tornado hits

CBC News Manitoba

3 years ago
A tornado touched down in the Alonsa, Man. area on Friday night, killing one man and damaging several properties. 1:51

"There is certainly vehicles extensively damaged, some rolled," Vrolijk said. "There was a truck that was thrown into a lake. There's several trailers that have been destroyed."

Vrolijk said another clear indication of the ferocity of the twister is the trees, some left completely bare of leaves and bark.

Alonsa tornado destroys shop

CBC News Manitoba

3 years ago
A man has died after a tornado touched down in the Alonsa, Man., area on Friday night, RCMP confirmed. 0:46

Emergency weather alerts were sent out through the new Alert Ready system, according to Environment Canada. But many people did not have cell service and did not receive them, a spokesperson said. 

The area was pounded by more severe thunderstorms on Saturday, and Vrolijk said that at one point the survey team had to take cover as "golf-ball" sized hail pelted down.

There is better news in the latest weather forecast — Vrolijk said a much cooler air mass is moving in with a ridge of high pressure, so it should be quiet at least for the next few days, making cleanup efforts a little easier.

Tornado strengths: 

  • EF-0: 90-130 km/h. Damage to trees, shingles, antennas and windows.
  • EF-1: 135-175 km/h. Trees uprooted, cars overturned.
  • EF-2: 180-220 km/h. Roofs blown off homes, sheds destroyed, mobile homes flipped.
  • EF-3: 225-265 km/h. Walls, roofs destroyed, metal buildings collapsed, forests destroyed.
  • EF-4: 270-310 km/h. Well-built homes mostly destroyed, heavy objects thrown long distances.
  • EF-5: 315 km/h or more. Homes destroyed and/or blown great distances, roofs blown off larger structures, which are otherwise heavily damaged.

With files from The Canadian Press